Just Have A Go: A Motto To Help You And Your Children Cope With Our Changing World

Rebecca Grant
Jun 7 · 6 min read

I am sitting cross-legged on the living room floor surrounded by my sons, some tools, and the GroClock innards.

If you’ve never heard of a GroClock, it’s a clock especially designed to keep young children in bed until the sun appears on the clock face. In theory, parents would choose a reasonable wake-up time and small children would stay quietly in bed until the sun appears. In practice, my youngest quickly figured out how to press the buttons enough times to make the sun appear at 4am before bursting into my room to announce, “The sunshine is on my clock!”

And no, I’m not surrounded by GroClock innards because I threw it against the wall in a sleep-deprived fit of rage. Instead, I purposely took it apart with my sons after watching Gever Tulley’s Ted Talk, 5 Dangerous Thing You Should Let Your Kids Do.

Tulley challenges parents to allow children to take apart household appliances to get them interested in tinkering.

Those who know me know that tinkering with appliances is way out of my comfort zone. So, why would I accept Tulley’s challenge?

Because I am worried about my children’s future job prospects. I worry about how they will cope with our rapidly changing world. I worry about how I will adapt to all of these changes.

What Will The Future Look Like?

Artificial intelligence and automation are replacing manual jobs.

Change is inevitable. You can’t ignore it. There’s a huge shift taking place right now and it’s disrupting entire industries, businesses and jobs around the world — and it’s called Digital Transformation.

Since the rate of change is so rapid, we cannot even begin to predict what our children’s future will look like. What jobs will exist when they are adults? The only thing we can do as parents is to encourage our children to embrace these changes and see them as opportunities to grow. To help my children (and myself) do this, I have adopted a new motto in our house.

My new motto is: Just have a go!

As an American living in the U.K., I have come to love this British expression. It means to give something a try regardless of the outcome.

Don’t worry about failures, worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try. — Jack Canfield

Many 21st century educational discussions focus on encouraging creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. While I agree that the 4 C’s are essential, I believe a ‘have a go’ attitude must underpin these soft skills so our children won’t freeze up in the face of change.

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” — Alvin Toffler

So, how do we develop a ‘have a go attitude’ and encourage one in our children?

1. Make Mistakes– If we want to make progress, we must make mistakes. If we change our perspective to see mistakes as learning opportunities instead of barriers, we will move forward.

If we have children, we must show them that adults make mistakes, too. Don’t be afraid to admit this. If we show our children that we are open to learning from our mistakes, we will send them an important unspoken message. Our children are far more likely to copy the behavior they see than just do what we say.

2. Tinker– Try to find the joy in taking things apart, manipulating objects, and putting them back together in new and different ways.

If something breaks, take it apart with your children, see how it is made and even have a go at fixing it. If you can’t fix it, don’t worry — just enjoy the process. Get a classic set of Lego and hide the instructions. Try to create your own original models. You will find that your children are far better at it than you are.

3. Explore Your Interests and Allow Your Children To Do The Same — If you have always wanted to play the drums, sign up for some classes. There is more to life than your day job. Maybe you want to start learning a language. There are apps for this. Try to set aside 5 minutes a day to explore a new interest. Getting away from your normal routine might even give you a new insight into something or lead to a creative breakthrough.

Give children the freedom to follow their interests whatever they may be. My youngest was obsessed with Halloween. When I finally stopped trying to get him interested in something more educational (like animals), he really grew.

4. Create Things– Create products and learn through the process. Maybe you have an area of expertise you can share with the world. Look into creating online courses, e-books, writing about your area of expertise or even coaching others.

Encourage your children to create. They can make books, e-books, voice recordings, songs, plays, slow-motion videos, models out of recycled goods, art, dioramas, etc. Stop worrying about perfection and just let them do it (however messy, ugly, or unusual their creation may be).

5. Have A Creative Reception — Invite grandparents, friends and neighbors over to eat some snacks and view some art, sculptures, and models made by your children (or even you). Maybe you’ve written a picture book. Invite others over to see it. Turn it into a little party. Share your creative endeavors with friends and encourage them to do the same with you. You may come up with an idea to work on together or inspire each other to take your work to the next level.

6. Play with Technology — Give yourself time to try out a new app or design tool with no expectations. When you let go of expectations and just experiment, you will enjoy the process and get more out of it.

Allow children supervised play with technology. When my youngest got a child’s version of a Go Pro video camera for Christmas I groaned and wondered how I would find the time to read the online manual and figure it all out. One day I just handed it to him. Within minutes he had figured out how to do slow motion, stop animation, and fast motion videos simply by pushing buttons and playing around with it.

7. Cook– Cook together. Not only will you make healthier meals, but you may also find inspiration in the process.

Cook with your children. Try out new recipes using the metric system. Your child’s math and science teachers will thank you. Allow your children to create their own recipes. Maybe they will be the next celebrity chef or invent the food of the future.

8. Try Out a New Learning Platform — My eldest and I are both trying out Khan Academy. He is doing the “Pixar in a Box” course on graphic design and I signed myself up for the intro to computer programming course. Not only am I trying something completely new, but I am also learning how the program works so that I can help my son with it.

9. Share Your Creative Endeavors — Designate a moment in the week where each family member shares or showcases a creative project they are working on or a problem they have solved. If you don’t have children, do this with a partner or friend. The possibilities are endless. This takes the focus off of accomplishments and puts it onto trying new things.

Take the Pressure Off — This is the most important guideline for encouraging a willingness to have a go. There is only so much time in the day. Work on adding one idea to your daily routine.

For your own personal development, try to set aside 5 minutes a day to try something new. For your children, you may just have time to create a space with accessible art supplies or Lego blocks so that they can have a go. If they know they will have the opportunity to share their creations, they will be far more motivated to create.

Who knows — one of you may just discover a new talent or interest in the process!

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Rebecca Grant

Written by

Teacher. Traveler. Future children’s author. Musings featured in One Fine Parent and Thrive Global. Learning along with my children @ www.learn2gether.co.uk

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +479K people. Follow to join our community.